Why Not the “Philosopher’s” Stone?

The Sorcerer's Stone (2001)

To say that fantasy sucks would be an understatement right? It’s something devoid of tediousness, unoriginality and free spirit. The world of fantasy in any universe should be embraced as magnificent and creative without any limits. Let’s look at the world of Harry Potter for instance. Wizards and mudbloods (or so Malfoy likes to call them) and dragons and elves and everything in between makes a universal world of magic and excitement for any young audience, fresh mind or not.

*SPOILERS*

The first installment in the film series which was released in 2001, always had that hidden question that I would ask myself about it. Why was it released in the US as “…the Sorcerer’s Stone” and not as the title held upon by the book that it was based on? That’s another point I want to talk about. I’ll admit sometimes the unforeseen procrastinating side of my personality prevents me from reading a book before I even see its film adaption. Oops I admitted it, but I’m not going to beat myself up over it. However from what I’ve heard from my friends that actually read all the books, this movie really was a faithful adaption of the book, so why not just retain the original title and save the trouble of making me wonder this question for all these years? Oh well.

Anyways as I was saying, this first part of the film series follows a very young and pure Harry Potter on a magical experience as he discovers that he is very famous for being the survivor of an attack on his family by the evil Lord Voldemort. Oops I said his name. So basically Voldemort’s introduced as the Darth Vader of this magical universe, the Sauron of this wizard world, pretty much the ultimate badass that everyone should fear, let alone mention his name (I honestly don’t remember anymore why it was such a big deal to never say his name). This however is also responsible for giving Harry such a high reputation in the wizard world due to his survival taking place only when he was a mere baby. His parents on the other hand weren’t so lucky.

With his invitation to study at Hogwarts, Harry makes the transition of being placed into the Gryffindor house along with his newfound friends, Ron and Hermione. From there his reputation at Hogwarts grows rather rapidly as his skills in the Quidditch team prove marvelous.

His antics with a troll and a hooded Voldemort in the forest make him a noted stand-out among the first-year students at Hogwarts. After various research they happen to stumble upon the idea that someone is trying to revive the long-awaited Voldemort with the “Socerer’s Stone.” There it is again, why not the “Philosopher’s Stone” instead? The rest I definitely won’t explain as it is rather something that you as an audience viewer should see for yourself if you’re reading this. If anything, I’ll only mention that the film ends with a classic sensational and satisfying climax that leaves you wanting more, which of course we would get in the subsequent sequels.

It’s no surprise, at least to me, that this film marked the start of a notable film series that captured everyone’s attention over the course of the past decade. It certainly can also be seen as the reason for jump-starting the careers of its main stars, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and of course the lovely Emma Watson. They all play their roles and characters very enthusiastically. Harry has that sad but strong background that makes him a worthy protagonist. Ron is that red-haired sidekick if you will, who causes mishaps that are eventually taken care of by the obviously-intelligent and strong-witted Hermione. And Voldemort? Well his only appearance at the end makes him look like what I had mentioned previously, the ultimate badass to be feared upon any name mentioning. Oops there I said his name again.

Without a beautifully handled production set or effects, I don’t think the wizard world would’ve been believable enough for us. For that I personally wish I could thank them as well as Chris Columbus for his magnificent direction and devotion to the book. Till next time, I only await the chance to give my critique on the next installment. So until then, if you maybe lived under a rock and thus never watched a Harry Potter film, this would maybe mark the exact time to start. For a film that I remember so caringly, it really is the notion of a film that can maintain audiences of any age.

Freaky Enough

Freaky Friday (2003)

Once upon a time there was Lindsay Lohan. Once upon a time there was Jamie Lee Curtis. Eventually these two would “trade” places for a day and I mean literally. “Freaky Friday” embellishes the positive tones and messages that it conveys to an audience, whether it be Jamie’s hilarious acting or Lindsay’s typical but humorous performance. And just think, those roles are meant to played by each character in vice-versa transition.

*SPOILERS*

Imagine you’re mom for a day. The responsibilities of adulthood and the troubles that kids must bring you. Now think like a teenager. The drama, the living-in-the-moment mentality, the considerations about your future. It’s obviously a Disney production, but somehow I still remember loving this movie with every bit of laughter that it would instill on me. Tess and Anna are basically a mom and daughter duo who unexpectedly end up switching their bodies after a fatefully reading a fortune cookie

Credit should definitely go to Jamie who took herself to the unfamiliar role of being comedic, which is unique because I always remembered her for the Halloween series, as did everyone else I’m sure. Playing the teenager who gets trapped in her mom’s body seems pretty seldom, but for Jamie, I think what made this work was the fact that we see her display the typical rebellious teenager who gives off nothing but a vibe of unique naiveness. Her makeover would have to be my favorite part.

Then of course, we have to give Lindsay some credit. I’ve always had the typical celebrity crush on her (well at least until 2006), but let’s just put aside that fantasy for a moment. Since she’s playing the mature mom who get’s trapped inside her daughter’s body, she has maybe the chance to be “serious” for once in her life. Complete opposite! She humiliates her English teacher, berates her friends, and even sabotages a fellow alumni’s school test. Oh well, so much for having gown up.

This isn’t the greatest comedy of all time but it’s one that everyone should at least watch once. It’s not one necessarily meant for adults but it is a payoff of well-toned humor for both kids and teenagers. Who knows. Maybe some of you adults reading this post could find it funny. But like I said, everything has to be tried at least once. Don’t love it till you try it. Keep in mind that this is a Disney movie we’re talking about.

Noble Steed Indeed

Shrek

If I didn’t write about “Shrek” before, I’d have to be crazy cuckoo. But I’m not, so here we go. Besides Pixar, DreamWorks has some of the best animated films that I love and this is the reason for one of them. Released in 2001, this one for some reason will have a special place in my heart. Maybe it’s because I would always want to hit that replay button as a kid. Maybe it’s because of how alluring  and compelling it was with it’s animation. Or maybe it’s because of its high-end originality with its characters and the various ways that it alluded pop culture. Or maybe it was because of its catchy soundtrack.

*SPOILERS*

Before I watched “Shrek” I did NOT even know what an ogre was. I just thought it was another word for feces. But thank goodness, this film cleared that up for me. We have our titular character on a quest to save a princess, he makes some friends as well as some enemies, and becomes a hero destined for greatness altogether.

What I loved about this, was how “Shrek” basically took those elements and flipped it around on its own. An ogre for a hero goes completely against the norm of handsome prince. A donkey for a sidekick goes completely against the norm of noble steed. Throw in a female dragon, a midget king & a beautiful princess that actually turns into a polar opposite at night, and you’ve got something original and hilarious.

I also appreciated the effects and how every character’s design was handled perfectly to give them a realistic look. Even the inclusion of various fairy tale creatures is also something I’ll always remember about this series. They usually are thrown in for comic relief when everything seems too serious but they do a pretty decent job at mocking who these characters are. Out of all these characters, my favorite would have to be Donkey (for this first installment). A “useless, pathetic, annoying talking donkey” was the best idea they could’ve came up with.

You can’t help but love the voices of all the characters and I think that’s where the casting worked perfectly. Everyone fit their roles as well as their character’s personalities. Last but certainly not least, if there was one other thing that I loved about “Shrek,” it was the fact that EVERYONE could love it. Animated movies are typically focused on gaining children’s eyes, but if I were to watch this movie again now, at 19 years old (and I haven’t watched this in a long time), I’m pretty sure I would still be laughing my buttocks off. 10 years later I’m pretty sure I’ll still feel the same way.